Using cartoons in the thinking and research process? Isn’t that a little far-fetched? Let’s first look at cartoons and see what makes them tick. The average person has noticed or read several cartoons every day of their life whether it has been in video, web, book, newspaper, or mobile device form. Have you noticed that the majority of cartoons have a common format to them? A cartoon, in general, tells a story. This is true in all formats whether it is a three panel cartoon or a comic book. This is even true of a single-panel cartoon which has three elements within the box. It seems that most comic formats can be reduced down to three basic elements. This is what I call the XLT (Xtreme Learning and Thinking) model.
Elements in the XLT consist of the SSP, an acronym that stands for Situation, Setup, and Punchline. A Situation is introduced in the first panel, and action follows as a Setup in the second panel , and then a resolution completes the gag as a punchline in the last panel. More specifically the Situation describes or defines the first panel as the scenario and puts in enough information for the first panel and for the whole cartoon. The second panel sets up the next panel by creating a puzzlement or cliff-hanger and the viewer wonders what will happen next. The meaning and humor is delivered with the final panel with the punchline.
The SSP is similar a play or novel in that it also has 3 components, act 1, 2, and 3. Act 1 is the Situation and the description, problem or question is introduced. In act 2, the action or series of events develop creating a puzzlement resulting as a cliffhanger. In act 3 the Punchline is delivered by solving the problem or answering the question and thereby tying the loose ends together.
The SSP also parallels the thinking process. John Dewey, in his “Theory of Inquiry” said that the thinking process consists of 1, Pre-Reflection, 2, Reflection, and 3, Post-Reflection (Dewey, 1933). Dewey essentially wanted us to consider the thinking process as the action-focus of reflection was bracketed by the perturbation and resolution.
The SSP is similar to Dewey’s “Theory of Inquiry” in that the setup, action, and series of events is bracketed by the Situation and Punchline. Looking a little closer at the SSP we see the first phase, Situation, as establishing the problem. Next the Setup is the idea generation and integration. The Punchline culminates with the Resolution, Implementation, and Reflection.
The XLT can also be used as a thinking tool in the classroom as well as the workplace. It is first, sequential and secondarily non-sequential. Sequential XLT is viewed as linear thinking. Example: Situation, Setup, and Punchline. Also Non-Sequential is viewed as non-linear and as “what-if” scenarios. Example: Setup, Punchline, and Situation. In addition, this can be done as restructuring and interjectory.
Stay tuned for more info. Examples of cartoons dissected. More information is to come on examples of Expanded SSP and non-linear SSP thinking. Practical application of the SSP and how it fits into critical thinking, story writing, and research skills. Example of “dissecting a cartoon”
Also check out cartoon based learning website. CBL